NEGEEN PAPEHN: FORBIDDEN BY FAITH

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I love having debut authors on the blog, and having the privilege of being part of their books’ introduction to the world. You know what else I love? The trope of forbidden love. Negeen Papehn’s new novel, FORBIDDEN BY FAITH, is the tale of a Muslim woman and a Jewish man who fall for each other—and it’s inspired by Negeen’s own marriage. I couldn’t wait to ask her all about it. 

Welcome to the blog, Negeen! Your debut novel, FORBIDDEN BY FAITH, just hit the shelves in February. What’s it all about—and what inspired you to write it?

Thanks for having me, Emily! I’m so happy to be here. My debut novel, FORBIDDEN BY FAITH, has been out in the world for a month and a half and I couldn’t be more excited! It is a Diverse Contemporary Romance that deals with the impact of traditional views and cultural differences on current day relationships. Here is the back cover blurb:

Sara knows her life would be easier if she married a man of her faith, but when has love ever been easy? 

Raised by her immigrant Iranian parents, Sara has been taught that a good daughter makes decisions based on her family’s approval, and she’s spent most of her life in their good graces. Until she meets Maziar, and her world is turned upside down.

An instant electricity ignites between them, and it seems like fate when she discovers he’s also Iranian. Just as her mind begins to soar with the possibilities, he shatters her hopes.

Sara is Muslim. Maziar is Jewish. Will faith tear them apart?

Despite centuries of unrest behind them, Sara and Maziar embark on a forbidden love affair, attempting to navigate through cultural and religious prejudices.

My inspiration for writing came from my need to find a creative outlet. At a time in life when every hat I wore just felt more and more like I was forgetting who I used to be, the motivation to create something in which I could lose myself, evolved into writing my first novel.

The storyline itself was inspired from my own life. My husband and I are both Iranian. I am Muslim. He is Jewish. And although Sara’s story is not mine, it is a very realistic reaction to our situation. I was lucky; not everyone is. And therefore it’s uncommon in my culture.

This is your first novel—but your second career. When you’re not in front of your keyboard, you’re busy being a dentist. I’m curious—have you always known that you wanted to be a writer? And how do you balance both of your careers…plus motherhood? Any tips or secrets?

I wouldn’t say I’ve always known I wanted to be an author. I have always written. From a young age I started putting my feelings down on paper in the form of poetry. And when I was a teenager, I discovered I could actually sing, so my poems evolved into lyrics and songs. Somewhere in the tween years, I do remember thinking I wanted to write a novel and trying, but that only made it a few pages, LOL. Until I sat down and started FORBIDDEN BY FAITH, I really didn’t even know I actually could be a writer.

As far as my juggling act, it’s a work in progress! I wish I had a secret, a formula I use to perfectly manage being a mother, wife, dentist and author, but sadly I don’t. When people ask me how I do it, I always say, I just never stop. I write in the in-betweens, after I run all my errands, while I’m on my lunch break, in between patients as I wait for them to go numb. I write while helping the kids with homework, or when they wind down before bedtime. And I stay up way too late to get things done. Any chance I get, I’m in front of my laptop. Honestly, I’m always exhausted!

FORBIDDEN BY FAITH is the first book in your FORBIDDEN LOVE series. What draws you to write about forbidden love—what about it do you find especially compelling and intriguing? And do you have any other favorite tropes you love to write about?

I love to write anything that takes my readers on an emotional roller coaster ride. I’m drawn to forbidden love because it allows me to create a relationship that’s awe-inspiring and amazing, yet hopeless and shattering, all at the same time. I want readers to root for the lovers but feel the despair that comes with the knowledge that they can’t be together. I thrive to make their hearts sore as much as I aim to bring tears to their eyes. Some of my most favorite books have broken my heart. When a reader tells me they cried in a particular scene, I do a little happy dance, LOL. I know, I’m cruel. But stories that exhaust you with emotions are the ones that stay with you long after you’ve turned the last page. That’s the kind of stories I want to write.

As far as any other tropes, I like second chance romances as well.

Both of the main characters in FORBIDDEN BY FAITH are Iranian—though one is Muslim and the other is Jewish. Did you draw on your own heritage to write the novel . . . and did you have to do any research to bring your storyline to life?

I did draw from my own heritage for this novel. When I started writing this story, I really didn’t think about publishing it and getting it out into the world. Matter of fact, I never imagined I’d actually finish it, let alone submit it and get it picked up! I just wanted to write, so I started with something I knew. I also wanted to show a side of my culture that isn’t readily known or focused on in the world we live in today. There are so many amazing things about the Iranian culture. I wanted to share that with readers in hopes that it would shine a different light on us.

I had to do minimal research, to be honest. Being that it’s own voices, it was easy to pull from my own life experiences. I did research historical dates and descriptions of religious/cultural holidays, to make sure I had the details correct. Other than that, it was basically things I’ve grown up doing and experiencing. There wasn’t much else.

Tell us a bit about your journey to publication. Were there bumps along the way? What was your most exciting moment? Your dark night of the soul?

My publication journey was a whirlwind! It moved so fast I didn’t really have any idea what was happening, LOL. It took me a year to finish the novel and get it ready to submit. And then I was signed within the following year. It wasn’t all unicorns and rainbows though. I received my fair share of rejections, each of which stung so bad, it just fueled my imposter syndrome. Multiple times I thought I wanted to just throw in the towel and be done with the whole thing. But, with the encouragement of my writer friends, I kept going.

My most exciting moment was when I received the email from City Owl press saying they wanted to publish FORBIDDEN BY FAITH. It was early in the morning, and I was getting ready for work. I was expecting another rejection so I wasn’t prepared for the ‘we want you’ first line. I started screaming, bringing my husband and boys running in to see if I was okay.  They found me jumping up and down, crying. It was awesome.

My dark night moment just happened, actually, after my book launched. I received my first horrible review. I know all authors say everyone gets them and it’s some rite of passage, but until you read a review where the story and characters you love and put so much of yourself into, are torn apart, you have no idea how devastating it feels. Especially if it’s a trade review. It made me question my worth as an author and I almost gave up. But after a week of licking my wounds, and a handful of pep talks from multiple author friends, I picked myself up and pushed forward.

BIO

Negeen Papehn was born and raised in southern California, where she currently lives with her husband and two boys. She wasn’t always a writer. A graduate of USC dental school, Negeen spends half of her week with patients and the other half in front of her laptop. In the little time she finds in between, she loves to play with her boys, go wine tasting with her friends, throw parties, and relax with her family.

Her debut novel FORBIDDEN BY FAITH is currently out with City Owl Press.  

Website: http://www.negeenpapehn.com

Twitter handle: https://twitter.com/NegeenPapehn

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NegeenPapehn/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/negeenpapehn/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17379780.Negeen_Papehn

I love having debut authors on the blog, and having the privilege of being part of their books’ introduction to the world. You know what else I love? The trope of forbidden love. Negeen Papehn’s new novel, FORBIDDEN BY FAITH, is the tale of a Muslim woman and a Jewish man who fall for each other—and it’s inspired by Negeen’s own marriage. I couldn’t wait to ask her all about it. 

Welcome to the blog, Negeen! Your debut novel, FORBIDDEN BY FAITH, just hit the shelves in February. What’s it all about—and what inspired you to write it?

Thanks for having me, Emily! I’m so happy to be here. My debut novel, FORBIDDEN BY FAITH, has been out in the world for a month and a half and I couldn’t be more excited! It is a Diverse Contemporary Romance that deals with the impact of traditional views and cultural differences on current day relationships. Here is the back cover blurb:

Sara knows her life would be easier if she married a man of her faith, but when has love ever been easy? 

Raised by her immigrant Iranian parents, Sara has been taught that a good daughter makes decisions based on her family’s approval, and she’s spent most of her life in their good graces. Until she meets Maziar, and her world is turned upside down.

An instant electricity ignites between them, and it seems like fate when she discovers he’s also Iranian. Just as her mind begins to soar with the possibilities, he shatters her hopes.

Sara is Muslim. Maziar is Jewish. Will faith tear them apart?

Despite centuries of unrest behind them, Sara and Maziar embark on a forbidden love affair, attempting to navigate through cultural and religious prejudices.

My inspiration for writing came from my need to find a creative outlet. At a time in life when every hat I wore just felt more and more like I was forgetting who I used to be, the motivation to create something in which I could lose myself, evolved into writing my first novel.

The storyline itself was inspired from my own life. My husband and I are both Iranian. I am Muslim. He is Jewish. And although Sara’s story is not mine, it is a very realistic reaction to our situation. I was lucky; not everyone is. And therefore it’s uncommon in my culture.

This is your first novel—but your second career. When you’re not in front of your keyboard, you’re busy being a dentist. I’m curious—have you always known that you wanted to be a writer? And how do you balance both of your careers…plus motherhood? Any tips or secrets?

I wouldn’t say I’ve always known I wanted to be an author. I have always written. From a young age I started putting my feelings down on paper in the form of poetry. And when I was a teenager, I discovered I could actually sing, so my poems evolved into lyrics and songs. Somewhere in the tween years, I do remember thinking I wanted to write a novel and trying, but that only made it a few pages, LOL. Until I sat down and started FORBIDDEN BY FAITH, I really didn’t even know I actually could be a writer.

As far as my juggling act, it’s a work in progress! I wish I had a secret, a formula I use to perfectly manage being a mother, wife, dentist and author, but sadly I don’t. When people ask me how I do it, I always say, I just never stop. I write in the in-betweens, after I run all my errands, while I’m on my lunch break, in between patients as I wait for them to go numb. I write while helping the kids with homework, or when they wind down before bedtime. And I stay up way too late to get things done. Any chance I get, I’m in front of my laptop. Honestly, I’m always exhausted!

FORBIDDEN BY FAITH is the first book in your FORBIDDEN LOVE series. What draws you to write about forbidden love—what about it do you find especially compelling and intriguing? And do you have any other favorite tropes you love to write about?

I love to write anything that takes my readers on an emotional roller coaster ride. I’m drawn to forbidden love because it allows me to create a relationship that’s awe-inspiring and amazing, yet hopeless and shattering, all at the same time. I want readers to root for the lovers but feel the despair that comes with the knowledge that they can’t be together. I thrive to make their hearts sore as much as I aim to bring tears to their eyes. Some of my most favorite books have broken my heart. When a reader tells me they cried in a particular scene, I do a little happy dance, LOL. I know, I’m cruel. But stories that exhaust you with emotions are the ones that stay with you long after you’ve turned the last page. That’s the kind of stories I want to write.

As far as any other tropes, I like second chance romances as well.

Both of the main characters in FORBIDDEN BY FAITH are Iranian—though one is Muslim and the other is Jewish. Did you draw on your own heritage to write the novel . . . and did you have to do any research to bring your storyline to life?

I did draw from my own heritage for this novel. When I started writing this story, I really didn’t think about publishing it and getting it out into the world. Matter of fact, I never imagined I’d actually finish it, let alone submit it and get it picked up! I just wanted to write, so I started with something I knew. I also wanted to show a side of my culture that isn’t readily known or focused on in the world we live in today. There are so many amazing things about the Iranian culture. I wanted to share that with readers in hopes that it would shine a different light on us.

I had to do minimal research, to be honest. Being that it’s own voices, it was easy to pull from my own life experiences. I did research historical dates and descriptions of religious/cultural holidays, to make sure I had the details correct. Other than that, it was basically things I’ve grown up doing and experiencing. There wasn’t much else.

Tell us a bit about your journey to publication. Were there bumps along the way? What was your most exciting moment? Your dark night of the soul?

My publication journey was a whirlwind! It moved so fast I didn’t really have any idea what was happening, LOL. It took me a year to finish the novel and get it ready to submit. And then I was signed within the following year. It wasn’t all unicorns and rainbows though. I received my fair share of rejections, each of which stung so bad, it just fueled my imposter syndrome. Multiple times I thought I wanted to just throw in the towel and be done with the whole thing. But, with the encouragement of my writer friends, I kept going.

My most exciting moment was when I received the email from City Owl press saying they wanted to publish FORBIDDEN BY FAITH. It was early in the morning, and I was getting ready for work. I was expecting another rejection so I wasn’t prepared for the ‘we want you’ first line. I started screaming, bringing my husband and boys running in to see if I was okay.  They found me jumping up and down, crying. It was awesome.

My dark night moment just happened, actually, after my book launched. I received my first horrible review. I know all authors say everyone gets them and it’s some rite of passage, but until you read a review where the story and characters you love and put so much of yourself into, are torn apart, you have no idea how devastating it feels. Especially if it’s a trade review. It made me question my worth as an author and I almost gave up. But after a week of licking my wounds, and a handful of pep talks from multiple author friends, I picked myself up and pushed forward.

BIO

Negeen Papehn was born and raised in southern California, where she currently lives with her husband and two boys. She wasn’t always a writer. A graduate of USC dental school, Negeen spends half of her week with patients and the other half in front of her laptop. In the little time she finds in between, she loves to play with her boys, go wine tasting with her friends, throw parties, and relax with her family.

Her debut novel FORBIDDEN BY FAITH is currently out with City Owl Press.  

Website: http://www.negeenpapehn.com

Twitter handle: https://twitter.com/NegeenPapehn

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NegeenPapehn/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/negeenpapehn/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17379780.Negeen_Papehn

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